“According to information I have received from the victims, police officers have turned up unannounced on their doorsteps and handed them letters requiring them to give DNA samples to be stored on a police data base alongside the DNA of murders, rapists and child sex abusers.
“The men have been warned that failure to comply will render them liable to arrest.
“The Home Secretary and Chief Constables must call an immediate halt to this homophobic witch-hunt and write personal apologies to all the men affected. They must give public assurances that the DNA samples will be destroyed.
“This anti-gay sweep is supposedly part of the government’s crackdown on serious violent and sexual offenders, using powers under the Crime and Security Act 2010. These powers were intended to ensure that everyone who is deemed to pose a threat to the public has their DNA matched against the DNA from unsolved crimes and has it stored on the national DNA data base to check against future crimes.
“Police have apparently lumped gross indecency – the victimless offence that was used to jail Oscar Wilde in 1895 – with violent sexual assaults and child molestation. The gross indecency law was only repealed in 2003.
“Given that this operation is sanctioned by the government and the Association of Chief Police Officers, similar witch-hunting and threats may well be happening in other police areas in other parts of Britain. They may not yet have been reported by victims and therefore not come to light.
“Men convicted of the now repealed consensual offence of ‘gross indecency’ are, in effect, being rebranded a serious criminals and treated on a par with the most vicious, violent sex fiends.
“They are being forced to go through the trauma of police abuse all over again.
“These letters and threats have left one man in Northumbria severely traumatised. He was arrested and convicted at the age of 17 for a consenting offence. Now, nearly 30 years later, he’s being forced to relive his past homophobic persecution by the police. He was the victim of bigoted policing in the 1980s. Once again he’s being maligned as a serious sex criminal,” said Mr Tatchell.
The Northumbrian man wants to remain anonymous because he fears repercussions. He told Mr Tatchell:
“I am now 45 years old with my own business. I have been in a relationship for over 10 years. Dragging all this up from my past has made me depressed. I now can’t sleep or eat since it happened. I feel like stopping it. I am sick of it. I’ve been suicidal.”
He is not the only victim to come forward.
“Another man, Stephen Close, who now lives in Salford, was arrested and jailed for ‘gross indecency’ in 1983, when he was 20. He was in the army at the time and was abused by military police and subjected to violent assaults. He eventually confessed to having sex with a fellow squaddie,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Although homosexuality was partly decriminalised for civilians in 1967, it remain an imprisonable military offence until 1991. Mr Close was jailed for six months and discharged from the army with disgrace.
“Greater Manchester police claim his offence falls within the list of sex serious crimes that require DNA samples to be taken,” reports Mr Tatchell.
Mr Close said:
“How long must I endure this burden? Will I ever be able to lead a normal life without worrying whether my past will come back to haunt me?”
The letter to Mr Close from Greater Manchester Police states:
‘Through investigation of police records you have been identified as a person who has a previous conviction, which falls into one of the above categories (Gross Indecency 1983); and from whom we now wish to obtain a DNA sample….
‘The sample once taken will be processed and place on the National DNA Database, where it will be retained and may be subject to speculative searching either immediately or in the future.
‘You will be asked to consent to provide a sample. If you do not consent at this stage I require you to attend a police station within 7 days. The time and date of your attendance can be discussed with the person delivering this letter.
‘At the police station the sample may be taken with the authority of a police officer of the appropriate rank. If you fail to attend the police station as required you may be liable to arrest.’